Rolf lights the way for Bathurst
THE 1980 Bathurst 1000 was a triumph for Peter Brock and Jim Richards, who won their third consecutive race.
The race was notable for the car in which they debuted, the Holden Commodore, and it is also remembered for Dick Johnson's heavy crash into the wall on lap 17.
For Fraser Coast Regional Councillor Rolf Light, the great race of 1980 is memorable for another reason.
It was his first time on the Bathurst track as a fire marshal.
Ever since, Rolf has made the trek to Bathurst every year over three decades to put his life on the line, looking after the safety of the drivers as the Fords and the Holdens roar over the hill, spitting fire and fumes at speeds up to 300kmh.
Rolf said his love for the sport sparked his desire to become a fire marshal. "As a spectator, I became quite passionate about the sport and wanted to participate," he said.
Quickly realising he "did not have the capacity" to become a driver, he became a fire marshal instead.
"In my 33 years at Bathurst, I have experienced all types of weather from snow to 40-degree heat and have seen massive changes in race car technology and speed, and the professionalism of the event," he said.
A proud member of the rescue team of seven fire units placed around the track, Rolf is reluctant to talk about any of crashes he has attended.
"I've been asked on many occasions what incidents I have attended in motor sport, even though some are tragic, I always try to remember the lighter moments and the great pleasure and pride of working with such a professional team of men and women," he said. "I have also had the pleasure over the last 30 years to interact with and meet numerous drivers."
Rolf said the two drivers who really stood out for him, though, were Peter Brock and Craig Lowndes.
"It was not only just their driving ability, but their warm nature and their ability to communicate with individuals that makes people feel they are the only ones in the room," he said.
From his work at Bathurst, Rolf has also had the opportunity to work at other big races, such as the Indy Cars at Surfers Paradise, where he was pit lane supervisor for firefighting activities.
He was most proud, however, to be selected in 2008 to be part of the Australian team that went to Singapore for the training of the new officials and to work and supervise at the first night race in Formula One history.
He said he stressed he importance of their work to Singaporean firefighters by telling them that they were representing their country.
"Our actions at the time of responding to an incident are viewed and judged by literally millions, which is unlike any other firefighting activity," he said.
This October, the Bathurst 1000 will celebrate it 50th anniversary, and Rolf will be there again as a fire marshal.
He will be driving Fire 2 and will provide online race updates and behind-the-scenes information for Fraser Coast rev-heads to follow.